Friday, December 10, 2010

What Black Farmers Could Have Done With $2 Billion Dollars

Please read the FACTS of the case right here first from the Congressional Research Service and accept no other spin.

  • Payout #1 - $1.01  Billion  (See graphic below)
  • Payout #2 - $1.15 Billion
Grand Total = $2.16 Billion 

As you wade through the partisan volleys and the racial positioning the key point that will be overlooked is that the Farm Services Bureau program in question was a "last chance" credit financing program for farmers who had been unable to secure financing for continued operation of their business from traditional credit sources (banks).

This post is not a retrial of the conclusions of the case.  The federal government agreed to the settlement and the point is now moot.   Instead I want to talk about the presence of money in hand and how it has been disconnected to any of the large scale needs for Black farmers and the "food security" needs in various underserved communities. 

This new round of money is seen as a "civil rights victory" for Black people.  I merely ask people to define what the victory is beyond the "fight the power" /"stand up to the man" ethos that typically placates them.

In analyzing a transaction there is an exchange of benefit between the two parties.  We see that the US government gave $2.16 billion to nearly 100,000 farmers.  The question of "What did the federal government receive from the transaction?" is a bit more difficult to recognize. 

Instead of a request sent from the government for a defined quantity of wheat, corn or cattle from these farmers - thereby insuring their continued business operations for years to come they received cash.  Cash who's value is depreciating in purchasing power as food prices and other commodities increase.  

So that my position is not seen as yet another contrarian taunt I will lay out the case and define what these funds could have been used for to address the needs of the producers and to several underserved markets in America.

Question: What Could Have Been Established With $2.16 Billion Of Seed Money If There Was Sufficient Consciousness and Connection Present

The graphic above is a picture of 'The Black Belt' region in America.  This is a region in the American South that has a high percentage of Black residents.   This region has several key attributes of interest 
  • A high percentage of poverty
  • A higher than average unemployment rate
  • Vast agricultural resources that have fallen on hard times due to shifts in the agricultural industry
  • A need for revitalization in order to remake itself 

Wikipedia entry - The Black Belt region
The Black Belt is a region of the Southern United States. Although the term originally describes the prairies and dark soil of central Alabama and northeast Mississippi,[1] it has long been used to describe a broad region in the American South characterized by a high percentage of black people. They were originally enslaved laborers on the region's cotton plantations and many stayed as rural workers, tenant farmers and sharecroppers after the American Civil War.
Because of the decline of family farms, the rural communities in the Black Belt commonly face acute poverty, rural exodus, inadequate education programs, low educational attainment, poor health care, substandard housing, and high levels of crime and unemployment. While African-American residents are disproportionately affected, these problems apply broadly to all ethnic groups in the Black Belt. There are various definitions of the region and its boundaries, but it is generally considered a band through the center of the Deep South, although stretching from as far north as Delaware to as far west as eastern Texas.

The Needs For Underserved Communities

 With all due respect - the news oracles in our community do an excellent job in reporting that there is a problem within our communities while at the same time they consistently show their inability to erect corrective systems that address the problem by building up the competencies of the people within.  Systems that have the key attributes of "comprehensiveness" and "endurance".

The article in the "Final Call' show a bus tour to see the terminally poor in Mississippi and Louisiana. The individuals on the trip show their connection to the people per their visit in the first place but also a truckload of goods to meet the needs of the people for at least a short time.

As the subtitle hints:"Blacks still living in horrible poverty inside the WORLD'S RICHEST NATION" - living inside of a vessel may allow all to float but does not insure that everyone on board will be plugged into the "wealth generating processes" that are going on on-board the ship.

The unspoken indictment against "the richest nation in the world" asks that the nation become more mindful of "the Least Of These" but doesn't intrinsically ask anything of them in the process of becoming the "un-least of these".

Food Deserts 

In addition to these areas of high concentrations of poverty per their regional assignment there have been several reports about what are being called "Food Deserts" .  These are defined as:

A food desert is a district with little or no access to foods needed to maintain a healthy diet but often served by plenty of fast food restaurants.

  • 'Physical access' to shops can be difficult if the shops are distant, the shopper is elderly or infirm, the area has many hills, public transport links are poor, and the consumer has no car.
  • 'Financial access' is difficult if the consumer lacks the money to buy healthful foods (generally more expensive, calorie for calorie, than less healthful, sugary, and fatty 'junk foods') or if the shopper cannot afford the bus fare to remote shops selling fresh foods and instead uses local fast food outlets.
  • Mental attitude or food knowledge of the consumer may prevent them accessing fresh vegetables.
Per my steady research on areas within the Black diaspora, particularly places where people are coming out of colonialism and must now assume the operation of the economy - the failure of the system of food production resides in the disruption of the steps of:

  • Production and Harvesting of Agricultural & Livestock
  • Commodity Financing
  • Wholesale Aggregation & Processing
  • Distribution Of Goods To Regional Centers
  • Providing Access To Consumers At The Retail End Point
Most people who are consumers experience the sight of farms and engage the endpoints of the process when they go shopping.  The system of wholesale aggregation of farm goods, the commodity financial markets to improve the viability of the farming business and the transportation systems necessary to get the goods to the marketplace with the demands are not as readily observable.  In my opinion the potential that was seen in the liberation of the nation of Uganda turned into economic collapse because the nation's new administrators (Idi Amin) failed to understand the middle elements.

The Missed Opportunity With The $2.16 Billion To Prime The Pump
Again I say - the Black farmers who engaged the Farm Services Bureau for loans were previously deemed non-credit worthy by traditional lending sources.  Instead of focusing on the racial discrimination faced at this "check cashing window for the unbanked" I choose to focus on the viability of their business as evidence of the hardship that they faced prior to F.S.B. did its deed.

With $2.16 billion in seed money a system by which the produce from these farms that have been nearly capsized in the large wake created by large-scale corporate farming concerns these farmers could have been recommissioned into an effort at providing the produce for the underserved communities that many of the activists who cheered the passage of this recent legislation also seek to bring awareness to.   There was a failure in vision to connect these two points.   They had two indictments outstanding against the state yet were not imaginatively creative enough to see how they both tied together.
  • The farmers needing a penned up market to insure their viability
  • The "least of these" needing a source of healthy foods.
The brilliance of Marcus Garvey was that he saw how his movement had a bifurcated purpose:
  • Address the need for material goods & services and jobs in the community
  • Properly channel the pride and mental uplift that comes with "self-determination" into measurable benefit
The same government that doggedly worked to shut down Marcus Gavey's Universal Negro Improvement Association just paid out $2.16 billion in punitive damages except that these funds were pocketed by individuals. 

What was squander in this use of the $2.16 billion?
  1. The investment in a Options Financing Exchange - where farmers can lock in a price for their goods and obtain financing off of the contracts for future crop yields
  2. The investment in a Commodity Exchange system - where needs are matched up with production
  3. The investment in a Wholesale Distribution system - where the goods from individual producers are sold and the market demands are fulfilled 
  4. The investment in a Commercial Shipping Operator - where the logistics that move the goods from one distribution center to the next is conducted
I am in the middle of my research to provide incontrovertible evidence to the point but I believe that I just described what Korean-Americans are doing behind the scenes with their "Super H-Mart" and "Mega Mart" properties. 


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